Introduction The differences between rough-puff and puff pastries Types of turn: book & envelope Flavour additions to the pastry Top tips for laminated pastry Recipe for rough-puff pastry (with photographs of each stage) Introduction I have always been excited by laminated pastries ie) rich, buttery and light pastries with many wafer-thin layers; the process of […]

This post is part of my Baking Tips page (whivh also has tips for macarons, croissants, cake decorating ideas and bread.) Key pastry tips Flavouring the dough Recipe: standard shortcrust pastry Flavour variations: flavouring the dough for both sweet & savoury pastry Rolling out tips Lining a tin Baking blind Using the blind-bake pastry case Gluten-free shortcrust […]

Updated January 2017 Sections in this post: Less is often more! Flavour must come first The amount of ingredients needed for different sized tins (Victoria sponge) About cupcake sponges Flavouring a cake mixture Preparing the tins Baking the cakes Flavouring a baked cake Different types of icing: glacé, buttercreams; adding flavours to buttercreams; crumb-coating a […]

Updated February 2017 A batch of croissants, made traditionally, can take the best part of a weekend with all the resting and chilling in between the turns and at other stages. Don’t get me wrong, making croissants the traditional way is one of the top baking pleasures for me, but there are certainly times when effective shortcuts are […]

Post updated: September 2016 (a few new photographs added) Introduction The “stretch and fold” method for making sourdough Recipe for standard sourdough loaves Simple flavour variations The sourdough starter (making a starter from scratch; maintaining & feeding the starter) The more traditional kneading method Rising: bulk fermentation & the final proof Shaping Turning out the dough If the […]

All images are of my bakes. A marvellous institution in itself, you do not need a reason to justify taking Afternoon Tea! Wonderfully indulgent, it is one of the most pleasurable ways to spend what should be several unrushed hours, allowing gasps of excitement to escape out as both sweet and savoury goodies are presented. […]

Post updated January 2017 Sections in this post: Introduction About the recipe Little tweaks here and there Recipe for a croissant dough How to shape the dough for croissants and pains au chocolat A few tips Proving: a cooler environment Variations A rough timescale for making croissants Quicker croissants Introduction I have been fascinated by laminated doughs […]

Post updated: July 2016 (with Vegan & nut-free section added) Introduction Flavour all the way! An initially challenging, but rewarding bake Top Tips for successful macarons A note about the recipe The recipe for basic macarons (with detailed notes at each stage) – click here to scroll straight to the recipe A few FAQs – includes how to […]

Shatteringly crisp baguettes, full of flavour and with wonderfully open crumb structure: surely the epitome of baking simplicity! Don’t get me wrong, I love throwing in goodies such as olives, roasted garlic, fresh herbs and the like in with doughs, but the refreshing lack of embellishments here absolutely hit the spot. About this recipe I have […]

Made in about 20 minutes, this simple chutney is a terrific complement for all manner of savoury dishes: quiche, cold meats, cheese…… I particularly like to use this chutney as a topping for savoury cheesecakes: the sweet tang of the chutney is a great foil for the rich lusciousness of the cheesecake. About this recipe I have been […]

These miniature cakes are my homage to the classic pina colada – my favourite cocktail; seriously, I never tire of this cocktail! A fondant fancy is a thing of great joy, and always trasnpirt me back to childhood – albeit without the rum in this case! Every time I have made these fondant fancies they have gone very quickly: […]

I have been making many batches of macarons in recent weeks – sadly not all for me: most have been for friends, with a few macarons from some of my batches used for temperature testing for a recent post. Raspberries are one of my favourite fruits and I need little excuse to use these in sweet bakes: […]

While baking is one of the most rewarding aspects of cookery, it can, nonetheless, be frustrating – especially when things do not work. Now things not working can occur when trying out a new recipe for the first time, error with the techniques or even when baking a reliable favourite that has never yet failed……..and […]

This is a very simple tart that is great eaten either hot or cold and is, for me, tart that can be enjoyed at any time of the year. It can be assembled in minutes so that is is merely a matter of baking the tart. It is even easier using bought pastry, but if […]

A shop-bought fondant fancy is very much a guilty pleasure of mine, but they are fun to make. And of course when making them you can go for whatever flavour you want, going for flavours that are not sold in the shops! Fruity, tangy and fragrant, these fondant fancies have a light orange sponge and a tangy […]

These flatbreads are so easy, so quick and so good with whatever dip or cheese is to hand. You can make a batch within about 20 minutes, including the baking, even going at a fairly sedate pace. The joy of these flatbreads is you simply take some sourdough starter (I use some of the starter […]

If you ever have left-over cake (“why would I?”, you might ask!), or have cake that is starting to go stale, these very easy bites will use up the cake for a delicious sweet treat. These are essentially cakey croutons, made by simply drying them at a low temperature in the oven very gently for […]

This is an incredibly quick but insanely good smoked mackerel pâté, and one I have been making for many many years. It helps to buy the smoked mackerel already boned, but you literally just mix it all together to give the most delicious pâté. The pâté is delightfully coarse, unashamedly rustic, but for a fish pâté […]

This is my take on Millionaire’s Shortbread, but slightly jazzed up: a real excuse for indulgence – but is an excuse ever needed? Essentially, you have a buttery shortbread base, topped with a generous amount of salted caramel and coated in thick milk chocolate. A real treat for chocolate lovers and caramel lovers. It’s salted caramel all […]

This post is a somewhat cathartic reflection on dusting oneself down following a knock-back and “getting back on the horse”. I recently had something of a baking knock-back: well maybe that is a touch melodramatic, (and after all nobody died and the world is still turning!), but more on that knock-back shortly. Now I have […]

The power of baking in evoking happy memories of childhood is one of the many reasons baking is such an addiction for me; a Battenberg cake never fails to transport me back to being a child again, when slices of Battenberg were handed out as a real teatime treat. I adore Battenberg, and while a coffee and […]

This thrifty pie, made with a simple mustard-flavoured hot watercrust pastry, is packed with pork, stuffing, juicy apricots, sharp apple, a few pickled vegetables and roasted onions: left-overs from a roast dinner and store-cupboard ingredients. This is the inaugural bake using a new pie tin from John Lewis (the Silverwood Bakeware range). This excellent tin is so adaptable […]

This very easy cake has bags of flavour. In my view, a bundt cake, as indeed any cake, should not be at all apathetic – no matter how ornate it looks: it absolutely needs to have the “wow” factor in the flavour, too. Using my first “proper” bundt tin, this is my bundt version of […]

These biscuits, which are a cross between brandy snaps and florentines, are incredibly easy and quick to make, with a batch made and ready to eat in under 30 minutes. The snaps are perfect eaten just as they are, or served with coffee or tea after a meal. They also make excellent edible gifts. About […]

This is a such a simple bake, and is ideal using left-over ham at Christmas and bits and bobs lurking around: frozen peas, a dollop of chutney and mustard……The actual proportions are only a guideline, so add more or less depending on what you have to hand. It can be made even speedier using bought […]

I adore hams, not just around Christmas and the New Year, but at any time of the year. Ham is wonderful eaten hot as the key component of a roast dinner, but for me it is at its best when sliced (thickly!) and served with some good bread, cheese, pickled shallots and a few chutneys: […]

While I sometimes love going “all out” when it comes to decorating cakes, when it comes to Christmas cakes, I tend to go for the simplest of approaches. This is my spiced fruit cake, an ajusted-over-the-decades recipe, but instead of the almonds on top, this year I have gone for a layer of marzipan and […]

This is an incredibly simple gingerbread cake: it is very moist, with jewels of stem ginger throughout and the underlying heat of spice from the ground ginger. The icing has a ginger kick with a nice lime zing to it – two flavours that are made for each other. The cake takes literally moments to […]

These are very quick and easy treats: small sweet pastries that are crisp, buttery and wonderfully sticky: quite fabulous served with coffee or tea! Measurements not essential here! For pastries such as these, whether sweet or savoury, I confess that I do not measure out the filling ingredients; I just sprinkle over enough to give a light covering […]

This is just a simple variation on a Christmas cake, going for individual bites of cake rather than making a large cake. Inspired by Nigella Lawson’s puddinis (such a fabulous name!), which use left-over Christmas pudding, these instead use some of the Christmas cake mixture I made for this year’s Christmas cake: I simply increased […]

This is my take on honeycomb, playing up to my absolute love of salted caramel by incorporating a little smoked sea salt – an ingredient that is now readily available in supermarkets here in the UK. Honeycomb is fabulous eaten just as it comes, sprinkled over ice cream, added to a rocky road, used to […]

This is my first attempt at these rather challenging Italian pastries – pastries I had never heard of until I tried one very recently and was immediately smitten. It goes without saying that I had to have a go at making these. Sfogliatella means small, thin leaves – and that is precisely what you have […]

I usually prefer to make mince pies using shortbread dough rather than pastry: it makes them more special than a standard pastry mince pie and it is really no harder to make. Besides, Christmas would not be Christmas without shortbread! And whenever I have made these mince pies, they have gone very quickly. These are also easy […]

A return to sausage rolls: one of my favourite savoury bites, both to make and to eat. Seriously, a good sausage roll should bring a smile to one’s face and have a very moreish quality: one should never be enough! A far cry from those mass-produced affairs you can buy from high street chain bakeries that […]

After a very inspiring run of many years, bringing so many food bloggers together, the Secret Recipe Club is sadly coming to an end. I gate-crashed this wonderful party very late in the game (just a few months ago), but it has been an exciting part of each month: I have discovered new blogs and have cooked my way through […]

Arguably the ultimate in comfort puddings, this is my take on a sticky toffee pudding: it has the warming kick of spice from ginger and cinnamon, and what I think is a delightfully sour undertone from tamarind that is a subtle counter-balance to the sweetness of the pudding. I like to have an even stickier, […]

Before I started blogging, photography never appealed hugely to me, and even once I started this blog, a few quick photographs taken with the iPad to show what the finished bake looked like was enough for me. However, I soon got to appreciate the power of effective food photography and so I started to spend more […]

This is a post in collaboration with Jamie Oliver and his Jamie’s Italian restaurants, demonstrating the different types of olive oil and how to use them in cooking. I have also included my recipe for smoked mozzarella and rosemary focaccia. I have long been a fan of Jamie Oliver: especially his no-fuss cooking style, his […]

Although I made this particular cake for a colleague’s wedding, I have made smaller one-tier versions of this cake, without much in the way of elaborate decorations, on many an occasion. A case of when simplicity absolutely reigns! The sponge is a standard Victoria Sandwich, with the addition of finely grated lemon zest. The buttercream is […]

Deeply chocolatey, with the sharp citrus kick of candied orange and a warming hint of spice work together very well in this easy, no fuss cake. Sticky bundts! This is my first ever bundt, so I feel I am coming very late to the bundt party that has been something of a craze for the past […]

This is a very refreshing cake, pushing into dessert territory. the filling and icing can be spooned over and swirled for ease, or piped: it is purely personal choice! Essentially it is a layered lemon drizzle cake, filled and topped with a mixture of cream and lemon curd. I have added fresh lemon thyme to the […]

For this month’s Secret Recipe Club assignment, I was allocated Amanda’s delightful Dancing Veggies blog. Amanda’s recipes are easy to make, they are quick and you don’t need tons of expensive or impossible-to-track-down ingredients to make them. I love Amanda’s frugal approach to her food: while some frugal recipes in books and online can have a tendency to […]

Fougasse is such a lovely bread, with a very crisp, shattering, crust and a soft interior. It is especially great as a tear-and-share bread, but I invariably find that once I get my hands on fougasse, sharing is a difficult option!  Rosemary and garlic are gutsy flavours that work well in fougasse. As I often do when […]

I have not made a pavlova for a few years, but it is always lovely to re-visit an occasional bake such as this. Rather than go for many layers of meringue, I went for one thick layer as the base, which was then topped with the cream and the wonderful coffee, walnuts and dark chocolate. […]

This is much a “use up the left-overs” bread, using up some spiced olives (the ones normally found in the chiller cabinet at the supermarket) and the end of a block of mature Cheddar. I added some chopped sun-dried tomatoes for that wonderfully intense umami flavour you get: sun-dried tomatoes are one of my must-have store […]

Very much an adult jaffa cake, this version of jaffa cakes uses Pimms as the base for the jelly, along with fresh orange juice, a hint of mint, a touch of lemon and just enough sugar to sweeten it without taking away from the flavour of the Pimms and the fruit. A real taste of […]

These are very easy breadsticks to make. They taste wonderful and a large batch can be made at a fraction of the cost of shop-bought breadsticks! Perfect with any dip, although I have photographed these breadsticks with baba ghanoush, that wonderfully smokey aubergine dip (recipe here). I have used quite a lot of water in […]

Baba ghanoush is one of my favourite dips and is hands-down the best use of aubergines for me. It it great with crunchy fresh vegetables or breadsticks and the like to dip into it. I used the terrific Andrew James Chef’s Blowtorch to do the bulk of the work: the charring of the vegetables – […]

This is a recipe given to me by Macmillan to try out, ahead of this year’s Macmillan’s World’s Biggest Coffee Morning. It is a very moist, light cake and it tastes wonderful. It is also very easy to bake. I would recommend making several of these orange polenta cakes for the Coffee Morning as they […]

For this month’s Secret Recipe Club assignment, I was allocated Emily’s delightful Life on Food blog. I love Emily’s enjoyment of creating meals from scratch: it’s a great approach to food and I share her feelings on how rewarding it is to do this. I also love the idea of Emily’s annual trips to Disneyland: I […]

Post updated March 2017: new batch of cheese photos added This is my first ever attempt at making cheese – a cheese that I only started to really enjoy a few years ago, but I absolutely adore it now and use it often in my baking. One of my favourite uses of goats’ cheese is […]

Melt-in-the-mouth is never more the case than with Viennese biscuits or Viennese whirls or any variation on this classic biscuit. They can be served simply dusted with icing sugar, dipped in chocolate or sandwiched together with jam and a little vanilla buttercream – although they can take any flavour combination within! I went for several […]

Having not made pasties in a long while, I felt it time to make a batch. With this recipe I made a few tweaks to the classic pasty for personal preference: the pastry: I have gone for rough-puff pastry, but this time with the inclusion of a little lard as part of the fat content […]

I am such a fan of sausage rolls; with a well-flavoured filling and light, melt-in-the-mouth pastry, they never fail to give me a feeling of total satisfaction when eating them! Sadly sausage rolls are much-abused in my opinion, especially most of the commercial ones which are often little more than cheap meat and dry, tasteless pastry. Ever since […]

NB: while some of these attempts are practices done on a flat surface, the spiced orange & rum cake, the Purple Rain coffee and rum cake, the blood orange & raspberry cake and the planet cake are real cakes. I will post recipes for these in due course, but feel free to contact me in the meantime about […]

Updated Feb 2017: new photos of the muffins Perfect sliced, toasted and buttered, English muffins (well, “muffins” to those of us brought up in the UK!) are very simple to make and require very little attention. And as with most home-made breads, they taste so much better than any you can buy – and for […]

I adore coffee: it is up there with chocolate for me as one of my top flavours. And tiramisu is one of my favourite desserts: so why not make a macaron version of this? The macaron shells are flavoured lightly with powdered instant coffee granules. It is best to use dry flavourings for macarons and as well […]

Sections in this post Tea with the Mad Hatter Layers of cake Shaping the hat Hiding cracks & blemishes on a fondant-iced cake Assembling the cake Recipes for the cake and the Earl Grey tea buttercream Other recipe links Clandestine Cake Club This post gives the recipe for the cake, the buttercream as well as how to […]

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